The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Thank you to Edelweiss for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

When I first began reading this book, I had no idea it had any ghostly underpinnings. Naturally, that just made me more excited to read it! I have been in a bit of a book slump for the past few weeks so I’ve been desperately searching for that story that will propel me back into reading – and this one was it! Here is my review:

35533431Summary (Goodreads): Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . .


Review: Let me start right away by saying this book gets 5/5 stars from me. I loved it that much. I’m struggling so much to find the right words to describe my emotions … but I’m going to try anyways.

I really liked that this story alternated between 2 different points in time. Some chapters were from 1950 and others were from 2014. The chapters from the 1950s were my favourite because every time the story switched to this time point, it was one of the 4 roommates who got to speak. This allowed the reader to connect with all of the girls and understand them – and their secrets. I thought the author did a fantastic job at this. I felt empathy for every single girl and could really feel their bond towards each other. I was also able to appreciate them as unique entities and could feel the pain of bearing the burden of their secrets. The chapters from 2014 were exclusively from Fiona’s perspective, as she searches for the truth. I will be honest, in the beginning, I wasn’t very drawn to Fiona. But as the story progressed and the different time points began to intersect, everything made sense and I grew to love every chapter, regardless of who was speaking.

I also really loved the mystery behind it all. I’m not going to say too much on it because I don’t want to ruin anything but there are 2 “main mysteries” that are the focus in this novel. Both of them made sense and were resolved beautifully, with no holes in reasoning. I loved the way the pieces fell together, and the emotions that were brought to the surface as Fiona tried to make sense of it all. Through the investigations, the novel raises difficult subject matter and does it in a very respectful way. I know I usually tell you what these are but for the sake of keeping this review spoiler-free, I’m going to stay silent.

The most surprising part of the novel was the ghostly element. I really wasn’t expecting it from this book but it was absolutely fantastic. It gave a very Gothic and haunting atmosphere to the story! I almost never get scared or feel shivers when reading a book with ghosts in it… but this book did it for me. My heart would race and I would turn on all the lights in my room because the mood was captured so perfectly. And in the case of this book, the ghost story aspect really enhanced the mystery! It added something more to the story, that set it apart and also gave it more …. substance. It reinforced the main message of the story: not all secrets stay in the past.

I have to say that this book was literally perfect for me. It had great characters, great writing, dual storylines that converged beautifully, and tons of mystery to it. The supernatural elements to the tale were just the cherry on top. I am so glad I got to read this book and I cannot wait to read more by this author!

Happy reading ~

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Top Books of February

February has been a crazy month for me on all fronts! I’ve been ramping up work in my Masters and I’ve also been trying to improve my blog and bookstagram presence. I also really wanted to make a dent in my eARC pile … but that hasn’t gone as well as I wanted. However, I did read some fantastic books and I wanted to take the time to highlight some of the awesome reads!

Top Books:                      

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Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor 

This was hands-down an absolutely wonderful read. There is no better book to describe the genre of fantasy than this one. If you haven’t already read my previous post where I gushed about it, well, I really had no complaints about this one. I loved the characters, as they were just so unique and vividly portrayed; they literally leaped off the page! The story was also extremely interesting, with great-building. If you are an avid lover of fantasy, then this is not a book you want to miss! It may be long, but it is well worth the effort!

 

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Furyborn by Claire Legrand

This was an eARC that I received from Edelweiss and Sourcebooks Fire (publisher) and I am so glad I got the chance to read it! It’s got 2 badass female protagonists (you know that’s my weakness) and tons of action to keep any reader interested! Also, I really liked the romance in this novel; it made sense and wasn’t too dramatic (and this is high praise from me!). This is the first in a series, and I’m excited to see where the story is going to go from here.

 

33918881The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco 

This eARC (thanks Edelweiss and Sourcebooks Fire) has been super high on my TBR list because I absolutely adored The Bone Witch (first book in the series); this book was different in terms of its focus because it was plot-driven rather than detail-oriented but it still delivered on intrigue and I devoured it in one day!

 

 

32920226Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward 

Unlike the other novels I’ve mentioned above, this is a very sobering story that uses magical realism to explore the themes of grief and slavery. Through alternating narratives from a mother and her son, we read about how memories can haunt people. This was a vivid and haunting story that kept me up all night. It is a very thought-provoking story and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys literary fiction.

 

 

34913737The King of Bones and Ashes by J.D. Horn 

This was a slower paced supernatural novel that I really enjoyed. This ARC was by an author who is known for his stories about witches but this was my first time reading anything by him. With tons of characters and a plot that intensified with every chapter, fans of supernatural fiction would really enjoy this book!

 

 

28096541The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed 

This novel packs all the punches as it tackles the issues of consent, rape, sexual assault, and stigma – and these are just a few of the topics! It was powerfully charged and I was amazed at the way the author managed to weave a story while handling such explosive content. This is a novel I would like everyone to read because it is just so relevant for our society.

 

 

35390279 The Night Child by Anna Quinn

This was a novel that was unexpectedly dark but very good. It deals with a very serious topic: child abuse. It was an emotionally evocative story and I found myself really connecting with the characters in the story. This is a short read but it does justice to the issues it addresses. If you can handle the content, then this is a very good psychological novel.

 

 

These were the novels that really stuck out in my mind from this month! I wish I had been able to read more books and meet all of my reading goals, but I’m glad I took the time to get to these gems!

How did your February book haul go? What were your most memorable books of the month? Comment and let me know! 

The Black Painting by Neil Olson

Look at this cover, and tell me you wouldn’t be intrigued to read it (especially if you are a book cover snob like me)!

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I thought this was a stunning cover, and when I read the premise, I was immediately drawn to the supernatural aspect of the story. I may not know much about art, but I love everything to do with demons and this novel had everything to make it the perfect read for me.


Synopsis (Goodreads): There were four cousins in the Morse family: perfect Kenny, the preppy West Coast lawyer; James, the shy but brilliant medical student; his seductive, hard-drinking sister Audrey; and Teresa, youngest and most fragile, haunted by the fear that she has inherited the madness that possessed her father.

Their grandfather summons them to his mansion at Owl’s Point. None of them has visited the family estate since they were children, when a prized painting disappeared: a self-portrait by Goya, rumored to cause madness or death upon viewing. Afterward, the family split apart amid the accusations and suspicions that followed its theft.

Any hope that their grandfather planned to make amends evaporates when Teresa arrives to find the old man dead, his horrified gaze pinned upon the spot where the painting once hung. As the family gathers and suspicions mount, Teresa hopes to find the reasons behind her grandfather’s death and the painting’s loss. But to do so she must uncover ugly family secrets and confront those who would keep them hidden.


Review: What a great premise, right? Unfortunately, the actual story failed to live up to it.

The story itself had all the makings to be great. You have a painting that contains a demon in it, and this painting is stolen. The owner of the painting, Teresa’s grandfather, is found dead with a look of horror on his face. And everyone in the family wants to find this painting because of its wealth – and because of the powers it is rumored to hold. The problem with the story, however, is the plot doesn’t really stick to the script. It meanders and flows in so many different directions that it is hard to keep track. I don’t care about any of the other side plots, I just want to know what is going on with this painting! It was so frustrating to read this novel because I never got the information or the story I wanted.

There were also a lot of characters. As in, way too many. There was nothing to really set any of them apart, and there was just so many names being dropped with no proper development that they all melded into one. It almost felt like I was experiencing whiplash, what with the sheer volume of characters and character interactions that were present in this novel. This is what happens when a story doesn’t have any character development whatsoever – and it was an experience I do not want to ever repeat.

As I’m writing this review, I feel quite sad. This novel could have been so good. And I don’t want to bash the author’s efforts to write and publish a book. But there was no redeeming quality about this book. There was no effort made to keep the plot concise and interesting. There was absolutely no character development, leaving the reader swamped by the sheer number of players in this book. It was just not a good book. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 1/5 stars.

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Happy reading ~

Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong – Cainsville #3

It may have seemed like I forgot about this series. BUT I DID NOT! I have been biding my time, trying to make a dent in my TBR list, and I’ve decided to make a real go at catching up with this series. Here is my review:

Synopsis (from the book): After Olivia Taylor-Jones found out she was adopted – not the child of a privileged Chicago family, but of a notorious pair of serial killers – her life exploded. Fleeing the scandal, she found a refuge in the oddly secluded but welcoming town of Cainsville. Working with Gabriel Walsh, a precociously successful criminal lawyer with links to the town, she managed to partially clear her parents’ name in an investigation that also revealed darker forces at work in the place that had offered her a haven. Fleeing Cainsville, Olivia now finds herself not only the target of the Cainsville elders and of the Huntsmen, but also of her ex-fiance, James. And this happens as her feelings deepen for Ricky, the son of the leader of a motorcycle gang, and confusingly also her feelings for Gabriel. Visions continue to haunt her; particularly ones of a little blond girl in a green sundress who insists she has an important message for Olivia. Will Olivia be able to prevent the tragic outcome that has been foretold?


So if I’m going to be honest here, I don’t think I enjoyed this book as much as I did the rest of the books in the series. And I think it had to do with the content of the novel. For most of the other books in the series, the story was about solving a mystery while understanding more about the fae. That’s what I loved about the series: there were sinister characters and gruesome deaths, and Olivia was learning how to recognize and interpret the omens and visions she was receiving. However, with this novel, there was a huge focus on this love triangle that the author decided to add into the mix. This book was more of a romance than a mystery novel, and it felt like I had been deceived (haha – get it, deceptions, deceived?!) by the premise of the story. I really don’t like love triangles because they are so tedious to get through and they don’t really add anything to the story. I also don’t like it because it changes the dynamics between certain characters. There was some mystery to it because we learn some more about the fae and Olivia’s connection to everything, and we do find out about the Larsens and whether they are innocent …. but it was all overshadowed by the love triangle, which was a little annoying for me. I will still be continuing with this series because I think it still has merit, but I definitely hope that the love triangle gets resolved soon so that I can focus on the really juicy stuff! But this book specifically gets a 2/5 stars from me.

Happy reading ~

 

Soulless by Gail Carriger – Parasol Protectorate #1

Going into this novel, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that the premise contained all of my favorite things: supernatural beings, the Victorian era, and a feisty heroine. That was enough to intrigue me and give this book a shot. After reading it, I am so glad I did. Here is my review:

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette. Unfortunately, Alexia accidentally kills the vampire while protecting herself – and the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. News on this vampire’s death leads to an investigation that reveals that unexpected vampires are appearing and expected vampires are disappearing. And everyone seems to believe that Alexia is somehow involved. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy?

To define this book by one genre would be doing it an injustice because it is such a mashup! You’ve got steampunk, Victorian social etiquette, comedy, romance, and of course, supernatural/paranormal fantasy. I loved this eclectic mix of themes because it added so much variety to the story! I absolutely adored Alexia. She is funny, and inquisitive, and everything I wanted her to be! She adheres to Victorian etiquette standards only when it suits her and her independent thinking gets her into a great deal of trouble. I love that the author always keeps her in the center of the action and never makes her rely on men to fix things for her. I also loved her romance with Lord Maccon, which I had guessed would happen right from the start; it is VERY believable and not exactly pg-13 (so I would advise younger teenagers to not read this book). The story itself was intriguing, with witty humor thrown in every now and then. I liked the mystery and the action, and the different supernatural beings who were involved. If anything, I wish the organization of the different societies had been given more details, as that would have given me a better understanding of this world that Alexia lives in. I had a great reading experience with this novel because I just found it to be so funny and interesting that I couldn’t put it down. I’m giving it a 5/5 stars for being weird and funny and everything else in between!

Happy reading ~

The Ninth Circle: Fire by C.A. Harland

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

What drew me to this novel was the beautiful cover design and the fact that it features females as the protagonists. I love fantasy and supernatural novels that have strong females in them, and this one seemed like one of them. Here is my review:

Tala Morgenstern has grown up hunting demons. Her family are all Nightwalkers, and it is their duty to protect humans from supernatural beings. But when her younger sister, Hartley, disappears while looking for her long-lost father, Tala must reach out to her other sister, Aiva. Aiva is the only Morgenstern who has turned her back on the underworld … but the underworld hasn’t forgotten about her. Reluctantly, Aiva agrees to help Tala track down Hartley. But as they investigate, they discover that there is something more sinister at hand. Now, they must make their way to the depths of the demon stronghold to save Hartley … before she can be claimed by hell.

If the TV show Supernatural had female protagonists and was in book format, this would be it. I used to be a big fan of the show, and I have to say that the similarities are uncanny. Both deal with family members who have gone missing on a “hunting” trip, and involve siblings coming together to discover the truth and fight supernatural creatures along the way. There are some unique elements, like the fact that Aiva can scry and make protection spells, but not much else. Was this an interesting read? Yes. It was fast-paced and action-packed. However, it was just too similar to the show for me to appreciate it as its own unique entity. Even the characters themselves resembled the Winchester brothers. And while I have no problems with authors being influenced by other ideas/stories, this was a little too much for me. Since it was still written well and exciting, I’m going to give this a 2/5/5 stars, rounded up to 3.

Happy reading ~

What The Hell Did I Just Read by David Wong

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This novel has taken me a long time to read. But not because it was bad. I’ve had so many interruptions in my life that I haven’t even been able to think about the word book. But I’ve slowly been chunking my time and getting in a chapter or two …. and it’s finally done! So here is my review:

Dave, John, and Amy have taken it upon themselves to get the story straight and tell a fairly simple tale of a shape-shifting creature from another dimension that has been stealing kids and brainwashing their parents. However, it soon becomes clear that everything being revealed is not the truth. Someone is lying, and that someone is the narrators. The novel itself is a cover-up, and the “true” story reveals itself through the cracks of this funny but depraved story with contradicting and convoluted narratives.

I didn’t know that this novel was part of a series. And it really didn’t matter because I was able to follow along fine without having had read anything before this one. This was one of the most entertaining reads I have ever had the opportunity to read. It was an absolutely perfect mix of horror and comedy, that is both a mess and a genius work at the same time. I loved all of the characters and their unique narratives and perspectives. The story is honestly so wild and bizarre, which at first took me by surprise, but I began to really love that style. Random characters are introduced, random events happen, and since these events are told from multiple perspectives, you never really know if what you are reading is true or false. It makes your head spin but it also keeps you hooked! I am so glad I took my time with this book because it just allowed me to savor it so much longer! I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something unique, something dark and funny, and something that will drive you insane while also make you crave more! I am definitely going to go back and start the series from the beginning! 5/5 stars from me!

Happy reading ~

Owl and the Electric Samurai by Kristi Charish

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I began to read this novel, I had no idea that it was part of a series. I wish I had known because it would have explained away a lot of the confusion I was feeling when I was reading. Anyways, here is my review:

Owl is an antiquities thief who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. And she is in for another adventure. The International Archaeology Association (IAA) is responsible for keeping all things supernatural hidden… but they are also the ones responsible for ruining Owl’s archaeology career. Needless to say, Owl’s still a little sore about that. But now, the IAA has a bounty out for the 2 designed of World Quest, an online RPG that is a whole lot more than it seems. Owl needs to find the gamers before the other mercenaries do … but when every clue points to them hiding in the legendary lost city of Shangri-La. Not only does Owl have to deal with competitors, she also finds herself dragged into a game of wits with someone who calls himself the Electric Samurai. The stakes are high, especially when losing means an all-out civil war between 2 powerful supernatural factions.

I felt that I was really at a disadvantage when it came to this novel because of my lack of knowledge on this series and the characters. There was a lot going on and not everything made sense. You definitely need to read this series in order in order to really understand and appreciate all that is going on. I’ve decided not to rate this book or post my review on Goodreads because I don’t think any of my comments would be a fair assessment of this novel since I didn’t do my due diligence and read this series properly. I would recommend this novel to anyone who is a fan of this series or is looking to start a new urban fantasy/supernatural series!

Happy reading ~

Visions by Kelley Armstrong – Cainsville #2

It’s been a while since I read Omens by this author but I really enjoyed that foray into urban fantasy. I hadn’t planned on waiting so long to read the sequel but … life … happens. Anyways, I finally got around to it so here is my review:

In Omens, Olivia Taylor-Jones discovers that she is the daughter of notorious serial killers. She finds an ally in Gabriel Walsh, a selfish, morally ambiguous lawyer. Together, they were able to find a devious killer and partially cleared Olivia’s parents from their crimes. Their success, however, doesn’t last long. While Olivia continues to take refuge in Cainsville, Gabriel’s past comes back to haunt both of them.

When Olivia finds a dead woman in her car, dressed just like her, she is shocked. What makes it worse is that the body disappears before anyone else sees it. Olivia is convinced it’s another omen. But when she learns that a real young woman went missing just a few days ago, it makes Olivia question whether the body she saw was just a simple omen – or a message. Who would have left this kind of warning and why? As Olivia tries to uncover the truth, she finds herself in the crosshairs of old and powerful forces that have their own agenda and secrets.

It took me a while to get into this novel because I couldn’t really remember what had happened. But after just a chapter or two, everything started to fall into place. It helped that the author provided recaps of important events from the first book to help set the tone for this novel. Again, we are thrown into a murder mystery that has some supernatural elements to it. I liked that the novel actually managed to answer some of the underlying questions that I had had from before. She also added a whole host of new elements that led to more questions. I will say that there is a whole new level of romance seen in this book that I was not expecting so …. readers be prepared! The dynamic between Olivia and Gabriel gets better in this novel and you really start to admire their witty friendship. One of the things that made me really happy about this novel is that the supernatural elements of the story were a lot more visible, even though it still maintained its main murder mystery plot; what drew me to the series in the first place was a promise of fantasy, and the author definitely delivered on that account. Overall, this is a novel filled with intrigue, supernatural forces, and an interesting murder mystery. If you liked Omens, you will definitely enjoy Visions!

Happy reading ~

Hell’s Doctor by Lee F. Jordan

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’m always in search for the next great thing in horror. You’d be surprised how hard it is to find good horror stories these days. I know Stephen King is the King of Horror but for some reason, I’ve always found it hard to get into any of his stories. I will definitely give Stephen King another go this year, but until then, I’m going to look for what else is out there. I was quite excited to receive this novel from NetGalley…. so here is my review:

With the latest death, Hell gets a new Doctor, one who is utterly without remorse. Best – or perhaps, worst – of all, he knows the secrets of the portal. As he is pitted against vicious serial killers and psychopaths, he is determined to gain access to the portal. “There are only three kinds of pain: physical, such as cutting through the bone marrow of a prisoner’s leg with a dull hacksaw; emotional, such as torturing a prisoner’s family slowly; or psychological, which destroys the hope of the mind.” – Hell’s Doctor Edict

Unfortunately, I was unable to finish this novel. It just made no sense. The author’s writing style made it really confusing to follow along with the action, and there was a constant change-up of characters that added to the confusion. The descriptions of the setting weren’t enough for me to understand the world that was being created. Overall, I just felt like I had stumbled into something that was half-baked. Like I mentioned, I didn’t finish this novel; maybe it gets better as you go along! However, I’m just going to pass on this one.

Happy reading ~